A re-teaming of Paul Bartel and David Carradine on a car-chase film should have been a sure thing after the success of Death Race 2000, but Cannonball falls short of the mark. The setup is promising enough, but the script glosses over the characterizations and rushes through the plot in a haphazard style, leaving some annoying loose ends flapping in the breeze. Bartel later confessed that he did not want to do this film and it shows in his competent but oddly impersonal direction: he manages the occasional impressive flourish (like the bizarre nightmare sequence that opens the film) but handles the frequent action in a slapdash, hurried style that hints at his boredom behind the camera. Cannonball is a hit-and-miss affair as a result, but B-movie aficionados will still want to check this one out for the cast. Carradine brings his usual stoic presence to the table, and Clint Eastwood movie regular Bill McKinney makes a memorably mean foe. Better yet, Cannonball is studded with all kinds of cameos guaranteed to delight the quick-eyed viewer; in addition to appearances by the likes of Scorsese and Stallone, there are also plenty of cult-movie fan favorites like Mary Woronov, Dick Miller, and Louisa Moritz. Ultimately, Cannonball is a bit too haphazard in style and storytelling for a general audience, but drive-in movie buffs might get a few cheap thrills out of it.
by Donald Guarisco review